IndyCar: Dixon gelling with new engineer, and praises Karam in Ganassi team debut


One of the upsides for Scott Dixon, the three-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion, in what was a challenging weekend at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was his quick adaptation to working with new engineer Chris Simmons.

Not that this was an entirely new relationship. Simmons – the longtime engineer on the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry – had worked under Dixon’s previous, longtime engineer Eric Bretzman on Dixon’s No. 9 Target car.

But with an offseason personnel move where Bretzman moved into the NASCAR world for Ganassi – brother Ben also moved to Charlotte, in working with Simon Pagenaud on Team Penske’s fourth IndyCar – Simmons was then moved over to Dixon’s No. 9 car as the new lead engineer.

The two pretty much hit it off from the start, as Dixon told MotorSportsTalk earlier this week.

“It’s been really good even though obviously, not working with Eric has been a big change,” Dixon said. “He and I have been together for 13 years. So it’s definitely different. I respect the guy tons.

“But with Chris, it wasn’t a big change in another way, he because was with Eric in the early days and we cross-referenced with the 10 car. It’s not like he’s a whole new person. Then with Travis (Jacobson), the assistant engineer, with Chris… he’s married to Debbie, who was (the late) Tony Renna’s fiancée back in the day.

“It’s pretty seamless. And it’s the same team right? For a tough weekend we had, there were no annoying parts, no big rows or anger. The thing we always have is the desire to win.”

On the “desire to win” front, Dixon said he was thankful Simmons’ old car – the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet driven by Tony Kanaan – was as close to being in win contention as it was on Sunday, even though the rest of the Chip Ganassi Racing team failed to achieve the desired results.

“I expect nothing less from TK. He’s won big races, championships, and he’s on the team for a reason,” Dixon said. “Could we have been up there? Yes. But it’s not a surprise for TK.

“For me, if I can’t be up there at the top, I want one of my teammates up there. It was great to see him salvage a respectable result.”

Dixon also spoke highly of Sage Karam, in his first IndyCar start with Ganassi, after several sports car outings in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

“He did well. He finished the race,” Dixon said. “And the thing is, he’s disappointed with where he finished.

“But St. Pete is one of the toughest street courses we go there. With no street course tire testing it was tough. It was a pretty tight fuel race, and the whole process was an eye opener. He got a lot of things thrown at him. He got to the end of the race. His hand was probably hurting a bit too from the crash.

“Getting to the end is a big milestone for him. He’s a big competitor. He’ll get there man… he’s a big talent.”

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.